SportsRace to the Derby


A Derby like no other: how Churchill Downs implemented COVID-19 guidelines

Kentucky Derby
Posted at 11:19 AM, Sep 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-06 11:43:20-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — It was a Kentucky Derby like no other.

The usual pomp and circumstance disappeared as Churchill Downs implemented COVID-19 guidelines.

The most noticeable safety measure in place on race day was the fact that there were no fans, leading to nearly empty stands.

The people who were able to attend included workers, security, media, owners, jockeys, and their families.

Hand sanitizer stands were posted all around the Downs. Signs asked the people who were allowed to be there to social distance. Other signs said masks were required.

"It's better than not being here, so, I don't mind to wear the mask, Whitney Byars, part-owner of Stage Ready, said. "I just feel safer. It's nice that so much of this is outside, so I think that helps as well."

Other horse owners also expressed that the atmosphere was a little disappointing, but that they were still thrilled to be at the Kentucky Derby.

As people go through security, their temperatures were checked. If they had a high temperature, they were taken to an isolation tent so their symptoms could be monitored.

"If there's somebody who we think is a possibility, they're only going to be here for a few minutes because we're either going to give them a ride or if they're ill we're going to take them to the hospital," Joann Sandbach, Churchill Downs first aid service manager, said. "We have an ambulance for that."

On the backside of the track, COVID-19 guidelines were also in place. The LEX18 crew was not allowed to visit because the Downs limited the number of people who had permission, but we spoke to a member of the backside COVID protocol team.

Dr. William Farmer said every single person who enters the area must be scanned in so the Downs could keep track of everyone for contact tracing purposes.

He added that everyone was required to fill out daily COVID-19 medical questionnaires and wear masks.